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Gilford officials believe it's prudent to leave sewer rates right where they are

GILFORD — Selectmen agreed by consensus to keep the town's sewer rates level for this year, even though the town has retired the village district bonded debt.

Finance Director Geoff Ruggles told selectmen that the town is seeing a continual decline in average usage and could reduce the rates by 40 cents for the administrative rate or meter fee and 15 cents for the flow rate.

The administrative rate is $58.38 per year and the flow rate is $5.99 per 1,000 gallons used.

He said he and the Public Works Director recommended keeping the rates the same because the town is going to need some capital in the upcoming years to replace at least three pump stations.

Ruggles said three of the pump stations and much of the piping is 30 yeas old and the older it gets the more likely it is there will be some kind of failure.

Secondly, Ruggles said the replacement and repair to the Winnipesaukee River Basin Project infrastructure will continue to increase over the next few years meaning that if the rates were to drop in 2014, they would likely have to go up significantly in 2015 and 2016 to pay for planned projects.

He said the Sewer Department is working on an inflow and infiltration study.

Selectmen said there is a Sewer Capital Reserve Account with just over $110,000 in it but agreed that building a cushion against future repairs and keeping the rates level would be better that dropping them only to see the spike next year.

"We thought it would be better to level off the rates in hopes that it will be sufficient to cover the capital charges," Ruggles said.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 June 2014 11:33

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Republican & Democratic committees struggled to find candidates to run for all 18 Belknap County House seats

LACONIA — When the filing period closed yesterday seven of the 13 incumbent Republican members of the Belknap County delegation and all five Democratic members had filed for re-election to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Altogether, the GOP has fielded candidates in all nine electoral districts in the county, but only one candidate in Belmont (District 6), which elects two members. The Democrats have mustered candidates in eight of the nine districts, but have fallen short of a full slate in four of them.

Under state law, both party committees may nominate candidates to fill the vacancies on the primary ballot on or before Wednesday, June 18.

In Laconia, District 3, where there are four seats on the ballot, incumbent Reps. Don Flanders, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton — all Republicans — are seeking re-election. Rep. David Huot, who is running for a second term, will be joined on the Democratic ticket by Mo Baxley, a former representative and executive director of the Freedom to Marry Coalition, and Tom Dawson, a retired fire science instructor at Lakes Region Community College.

In District 9, where the voters of both Laconia and Belmont elect one member, the incumbent Democrat Rep. Beth Arsenault has filed, along with Republican Robert Fisher. Two years ago Fisher, who works at Same Day Computer, ran as a Democrat. However, he said that his misgivings about the Affordable Care Act prompted him to switch allegiances and join the GOP.

In District 1, consisting of Center Harbor and New Hampton, Rep. Ruth Gulick of New Hampton, the incumbent Democrat, will be challenged by Republican Valerie Fraser, also of New Hampton, where she serves on the Board of Selectmen.

In District 2, the towns of Gilford and Meredith, five Republicans have filed for the four seats. Rep. Herb Vadney of Meredith, the only one of three incumbent Republicans to seek re-election, is joined on the GOP ticket by Michael Hatch and John Hodsdon, owner of Picnic Rock Farm, both of Meredith, and George Hurt, a former representative, and Glen Aldrich, a contractor, both of Gilford. Two Democrats have filed — Rep. Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, who is seeking her second term, and Sandra Mucci of Meredith, who ran unsuccessfully in 2012,

In District 4, the towns Sanbornton and Tilton, three Republicans have filed for the two seats — incumbent Rep. Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, seeking his 15th term in the House, as well as Richard Brothers and Brian Gallagher, both from Sanbornton. Incumbent Democratic Rep. Ian Raymond of Sanbornton has field for re-election and will be joined on the ticket by Jane Alden of Tilton.

In District 5, the towns of Alton and Gilmanton, two Republicans, former Gilmanton fire chief and state representative David Russell and Joel Lambert of Alton have filed for the two spots on the ballot. The only Democrat to file is Deb Chase, who was beaten by Russell for the seat representing Gilmanton in 2010.

In District 6, the town of Belmont elects two representatives. Republican Rep. Michael Sylvia is expected to seek a second term. Democrat George Condodemetraky, who has been a candidate for federal and state office in the past, has entered the race.

In District 7, the town of Barnstead, incumbent Republican Guy Comtois and Democrat Bruce Marriott will vie for the one seat. The same two contested the seat in 2012, when Comtois edged Marriott, 1,255 to 1,003.

In District 8, consisting of Alton, Barnstead and Gilmanton which together return one member, Republican Elaine Swinford, who served two terms in the House and chaired the Criminal justice and Public Safety Committee, is the only candidate to file.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 June 2014 11:05

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Gilford still wrestiling with how to deal wiht excessive speed on Potter Hill Road; 'humps' a possibility

GILFORD — Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan told selectmen Wednesday night that a possible response to complaints of speeding on Potter Hill Road are "bumps, humps, or tables" that are used to slow traffic.

Morgan explained there are speed bumps that are typically three inches high and generally cause traffic to stop or come close to stopping, speed humps that are one to two inches high and can slow traffic to about five to 10 mph, or speed tables that rise gradually, level off, and then decline.

He said if a speed table is installed correctly, plows can go over them in the winter. The downside, said Morgan, is the tables are very expensive.
As for bumps or humps, they are not able to be plowed and must be removed in the winters. Morgan said because of frost heaves they almost never fit property when reinstalled.

The discussion occurred in the wake of more complaints about cars speeding on the roadway. Police have been grappling with the complaints for years and in 2010 produced a traffic study that showed about 27 percent of all traffic exceeded the posted 30-mph speed limit.

About two years ago, also in response to complaints from residents, selectmen lowered the speed limit to 25 mph and have routinely conducted directed patrols, which mean that during a typical day shift a patrol officer will spend at least one 20 minute long session performing radar patrol on Potter Hill Road.

At Wednesday's meeting, resident Deb Haskell told selectmen that it still wasn't enough.

She said she walks the length of the road daily and has her grandchildren on weekends and fears for their safety. She said she's almost been hit a few times and said to her it seems like drivers are traveling at least 40 mph routinely. Haskell asked that speed bumps be installed.

Morgan and Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee both said they wouldn't recommend speed bumps because bringing traffic to a compete stop would likely result in an increase in rear-end accidents.

Bean Burpee and Morgan recommended that until the Police Department could conduct another traffic study, the Public Works Department would paint "SLOW" on the road in three places on each side of the .7-mile road. Morgan said each "SLOW" painting would cost about $20.

Selectmen said they wanted more traffic information from Potter Hill Road before deciding to install any kind of quasi-permanent bump, hump or table although they indicated that speed humps would likely be the preferable option should the traffic study support it.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 June 2014 10:57

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Guilty plea coming from homeless bank robber

LACONIA — A former homeless man who robbed the downtown branch of the Bank of New Hampshire on Pleasant Street January 4 has negotiated a guilty plea in exchange for a 3-to-6 year sentence in the N.H. State Prison.

Johnathan Ellinger, 43, has also tacitly agreed to pay restitution and to never enter any Bank of New Hampshire facility again.

Ellinger is accused of entering the Bank of New Hampshire and going up to a teller and saying "I have a gun and I am cashing my paycheck. If you set off any alarms or dye packs, I will get you" or words to that effect.

Ellinger left the bank with an undisclosed sum of money and was found within a few hours by Laconia police, who recognized him from the video surveillance tape provided to them immediately after the robbery.

Police said they found him by checking in the places most frequented by the city's transient and homeless population.

According to affidavits filed at the time with the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, Ellinger told police at the time of his arrest he "did what he had to do".

At the time, Capt. Bill Clary said the FBI typically investigates bank robberies however because this appeared to be an isolated case and not related to any other bank robberies in the area, the agency decided to let Laconia handle the investigation. He said bank robbery is a federal crime.

Although no one was injured, Clary said the teller was very shaken up by the ordeal.

Ellinger is being held on $100,000 cash only bail at the Belknap County House of Corrections.

According to the N.H. Circuit Court call center, Ellinger has a conviction for burglary and unauthorized taking in 2002. He had also failed to appear in circuit court on December 23 for a bail review for a shoplifting conviction.

Ellinger is scheduled to plead guilty next week in Belknap County Superior Court. Judge James O'Neill is not obligated to accept his plea and should he not, Ellinger can either go to trial or negotiate a different plea arrangement.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 June 2014 10:51

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